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Son of the Mask   C-

New Line Cinema

Year Released: 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Lawrence Guterman
Writer: Lance Khazei
Cast: Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Traylor Howard, Steven Wright, Kal Penn, Bob Hoskins, Ryan Falconer, Liam Falconer, Ben Stein.

Review by Sean O'Connell

Structure. Any good parent will tell you that children desperately need it. So, too, do movies, especially those with children as their focal point.

Son of the Mask has very little structure, which explains why the comedic offspring of Jim Carrey's breakout vehicle perpetually remains one rattle shake away from slipping out of its cinematic diaper and causing an odorous mess. Like a wobbly toddler testing his feet, director Lawrence Guterman teeters between amusing satire and broad toilet jokes. It isn't terrible, but it is terribly silly.

Eleven years after Jim Carrey fell under its spell, the Mask -- which, we learn, once belonged to Loki (Alan Cumming), the god of mischief -- finds a new schlub in Tim (Jamie Kennedy), a struggling animator with crippling baby issues. His wife, Tonya (Traylor Howard), wants a rug rat of her own -- marrying a man-child wasn't enough -- though Tim thinks he needs to grow up, himself, before charged with raising another human being. Enter the Mask, brought to their doorstep by their helpful pooch Otis. The addictive facial accoutrement helps the couple conceive, then delivers a host of problems only Bugs Bunny could love.

The mischievous carrot-muncher isn't Guterman's only creative inspiration. Technical nods to Dr. Seuss, Budweiser Super Bowl commercials, and that dancing baby from Ally McBeal dominate this whirling dervish of traditional animation and computer-generated effects. Guterman uses so much CGI to create Tim and Tonya's bouncing baby boy, Alvey (Ryan and Liam Falconer), that the child often looks like a Polar Express passenger, only without all that forced holiday sentiment.

Amongst the chaos, Song of the Mask actually addresses parenting issues plaguing a two-career household. A real effort is made to connect Tim to his newborn son before Mask remembers its kids-flick agenda and bows to bathroom humor. Jokes can be crude (Tim gets soaked in urine while changing Alvey's diaper), and the language is coarse for a family film. Parents should be warned that this Mask will fit older kids best.

Kennedy, meanwhile, makes a wise decision not to mimic Carrey, which has a reverse effect on this sort-of sequel. In the first Mask, Carrey literally came alive once in costume. Kennedy, already adept at imagining new characters, has far more charisma without the Mask. When he dons the relic, all energy actually leaves the picture. Not to mention the fact that he looks like Gary Busey after a week's worth of Botox treatments. To quote Carrey, "Somebody stop me!"

Review published 02.16.2005.

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